The Big Bounce

Things to do
The Big Bounce
Photograph: Matt Cornell Vanessa Marian

Cast inhibitions aside: this immersive mini-fest is inspired by the power of dancing – and designed to get you moving

Darwin-raised Sydney-based choreographer Matt Cornell believes in the power of dancing – not as a spectator sport, but as something everybody can do, and which not only makes you feel better but also builds empathy. He's brought together likeminded artists and performers to take over the PACT space in Erskineville for one night – turning the building and courtyard into a mini-festival that's part dance party, part art festival, and part social experiment. 

DJ Sezzo Snot (Mel) will be on the decks, Legs on the Wall's co-artistic director Joshua Thomson will be manning a courtyard barbecue, and there are performances by PACT alumnus Angela Goh (Desert Body Creep) and Adam Warburton.

The cherry on top is a workshop with Time Out favourite Vanessa Marian (of Groove Therapy), whose practice puts health, happiness and wellbeing at the centre of teaching you how to move to Jamaican dancehall and Afrobeats. Get there at 6pm for that.

Cornell designed the night around the mission of immersing people in the atmosphere. "If you jump in the water and it's too cold, or too hot, you can jump out – and you've had a swim, but you haven't changed temperature and neither has the water. But if you steep for longer, those things affect each other," Cornell explains. "I'm excited to have a whole evening, to get people steeped in the works – so you leave with a certain feeling. I think that dancing has a real power as a form of non-spoken shared experience that allows you to practice empathy."

Cornell points out that in Darwin, where he was part of Style Impressions (breakdance) Krew, people from different backgrounds are forced to mix together more than in Sydney. "There's just not enough people in Darwin for you to live in your own insulated suburb or group."

Besides the performances and workshops, there will be art installations throughout the space – video and works on paper – by artists whose work Cornell sees as somehow choreographic, including Salazar Quas, Emma Fishwick, Lizzie Thomson and Jake Kuzma.

"Unfortunately our society squeezes all the spaces where dancing happens into highly commodified or sexualised zones, for financial or sexual gratification. But all the artists I've invited to be in The Big Bounce are somehow making space for dancing to happen – not dancing as an institution or particular genre, but dancing in the sense of physical experience and expression, as an intelligent and thinking form of engagement."

By: Dee Jefferson

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